Renato Nunez was among the first players to arrive Monday to the Texas Rangers' clubhouse at Tropicana Field, as well he should have been.
He wasn't in Houston late Sunday and on the charter flight that delivered the Rangers to the Sunshine State at 3:30 a.m., when it wasn't sunny at all. Nunez was already in town after being claimed on waivers Sunday.
And he was ready for his new opportunity. Good thing, because he was in the starting lineup for the opener of a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I just came here and am trying to help the team," Nunez said. "Whatever I can do to help the team, that's what I want. I want to give my 100 percent and try to get that W."
Ryan Rua was sent to Triple A Round Rock to create a spot on the active roster for Nunez. Rua has been a member of the Rangers' Opening Day roster the past four seasons but at some point has been sent to the minors.
He heads there after batting only .178 with one homer and three RBIs. The Rangers wanted to see Rua play every day out of spring training, but he never got on track after 14 starts in 17 games.
Banister said that it's possible that Rua has been putting too much pressure on himself, but the Rangers also wanted to see Nunez after being considered a core prospect in the Oakland A's system.
Nunez, a corner infielder and outfielder, had been rehabbing a spring hamstring injury at Triple A Nashville. The injury is fine, he said, or he wouldn't have played left field in his Rangers debut.
A right-handed hitter who hit 32 homers last season at Nashville, Nunez will likely work in a rotation with left-handed-hitting first baseman Ronald Guzman.
"This is an opportunity to add a player to the organization we feel there is a ton of upside," Banister said. "He'll play primarily against right-handers. He can play left field, he can play first base, he can play third base. He's probably most comfortable at third, but adequate at all three."